Medical Definition of Engagement

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Engagement: The sensation that a pregnant woman feels when the lowermost part of the fetus descends and is engaged in the mother's pelvis, an event that typically occurs 2 to 3 weeks before labor begins. Women who have had two or more prior viable pregnancies (multiparas) may not experience engagement until labor actually begins. When engagement occurs, there is a visible change in the shape of the woman's stomach because the baby drops lower in the abdomen. Also known as lightening because the pregnant woman feels lighter after this event. Most women feel more comfortable after engagement, but some may experience lower back pain as the fetus presses close to the tailbone and the sciatic nerve. Others may find movement more difficult due to the lower center of gravity caused by engagement.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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